On Some Of What I Write

October 23, 2012 § 11 Comments

Imagine for a second you’ve travelled briefly, and upon your return, you find your very beautiful family home has some new guests. In fact, it’s a whole hoard of unwanted guests. Some are tolerable, some are downright irritable, and most offend your sensibilities, but what really pisses you off the most is they’ve all taken to trashing the house with unbridled and relentless precision, and with not a care for how far they destroy the place, or whether they render it completely unlivable. Now, you’ve also always understood this wasn’t just your personal property to do as you wish, but that it was more of a communal asset of sorts- one which although beautify, was undeniably imperfect and had its many faults, but yours was to love and cherish and protect and always look to enhance its beauty and maintain its structural integrity. You were essentially a steward of this manor, and you always understood your obligations to it.

What you come to learn about these new guests that really troubles you is their indifference about how far their negative actions have and still affect the house. You realize they’re actually steeled in their willful ignorance about home improvement and home maintenance, and seem to have not a care to actuate any visible measures that would suggest to you and everyone around that they are aware of the effects their actions have had on the house and the steps they and you hope will reverse the damage for which they are largely responsible. You also realize that besides all these attitudes I’ve mentioned, they don’t seem to take too kindly to your efforts to clean up the house. They resent your even suggesting measures they could take to mitigate the mess they create and the damages to the house they could create should they continue along the path they’ve walked since you first left on your trip.

Can you picture all that? Does any of it make sense to you? Can you see yourself enjoying living in this house? Now, imagine again that this is a home you really love and one that’s chock full of beautiful parts and memories… memories that are slowly being whittled away by the utter decay of the house caused by this extended family, most of whom you’d never met before your trip, never actually known about, and whose presence you find yourself caring less, and less, and less about. How do you see yourself living in this house? Are you happy in it? Would you like sharing a bathroom with these Neanderthals? Is it conceivable that you can find yourself downright hating these family pests you can’t get rid off? And can you see yourself being tight-lipped for as long as you live in this house and not say anything because you’ll offend someone’s sensibilities, or that they’ll let you know that their feelings have been hurt by your words to them? Can you see yourself helping to improve and enhance the home to heights it should proudly possess while these folks still keep to their status quo? Lastly, imagine for a second that you’re someone who wears his or her emotions on his/her sleeves and you’re thrust into this home with all its imperfects and most importantly, needless and unwarrantedtroubles, and its new (and even old) occupants expect you to accept the new status quo and either accept it or leave. Remember now that this is your home, too. 

Did you imagine all that? Now multiply the damages of this house by let’s say a factor of 100,000. Done? Mind you, you’re still in this house, but now that extra 20 irritants has grown to 2.5 million more than before your trip- with most, not all, having the same attitudes, ignorance, and conscientious stupidity, and utter and shameful disregard for taking care of the house. Let’s not forget this house is still the same size. How are you holding up? Are you any happier? Are you more irritable? Can you continue to keep your blinders on and pretend you don’t notice the continuing mess that grows around you? Let’s add one more: imagine after all you have to put up with, some of these urchins have the balls to tell you that have no right or place to react in the way you now (naturally) do to the images and experiences you’ve been bombarded with since you came back from your trip. And not only are they incensed that you have the balls to talk about these experiences, or images, or feelings, but that they feel you have no right to keep your own personal diary, (which they snoop to read) a place you’ve felt is one of only a handful of outlets to let off some of these boiling emotions built up on those sleeves. You left and returned home one of the nicest people in the world (you still are); they manage to piss the living daylight out of that genial side of you, then they proceed to complain that you have no right to be pissed or say anything that paints an honest picture of them because it makes them look bad? How do you feel now?

This is me in Accra.

So you think I’ve not been kind to Ghanaian women or don’t like them? You think I complain too much? You hide behind your keyboards and LCDs and mouth off comments you know you wouldn’t say to my face because I’m no ordinary geek… because I literally can and will snap you in two if you set me off. I write what I feel. I write what I experience. I make no pretenses about all I observe in this very familiar, yet strange land. I don’t gloss over stuff and pretend not to observe them. If I wanted hits, I could pen prose that will make you melt and return every hour jonesing for a fix you imagine only I could give you, but as you can tell, that’s not my motivation. I like to be brutally honest in my essays, but even on that, I severely restrain myself- trust me on this. I’m quite confident I don’t even write for anyone. This is my bully pulpit. This is my woods where I can go to scream off that primal: FUCK!!! Because I know I can’t just do that anywhere my emotions might call for it. This is my punching bag.

How do I write? A topic either ruminates for a while in my head or lingers like a pulsating migraine until I literally punch it out on my keyboard. I save, post when I can, and rarely ever think of it again. Sometimes, it’s snippets of unrelated thoughts I’d piece together in an entry. Sometimes, you might consider my words harsh, or mean, or cruel, but remember you’re that person in the gym watching me take it out on that 80lb bag. How I hit that bag or why I choose to hit should be of little concern to your own feelings- least of all, your feelings about me. Let’s even allow that you can choose to wonder about why I’d be hitting a punching bag, but should you feel from watching me throw two jabs and a straight right, that you’ve gleaned all there is to know about me and therefore assume the right to come around to vilify, judge, and crudely and rudely make comments about me, or my life? I love it when people tell me they’ve read two entries and know my type or who I am. Would you like it if I did the same to you? Again, I write what I know. I don’t write hearsay or conjecture, or even second and third-hand accounts of situations I haven’t seen or experienced for myself. If anything, I’ve been very kind in my writing.

If you don’t like an honest portrayal of yourself and your environs, start and end your objections by looking at yourself in the mirror. If you don’t like someone complaining about Accra or Ghana, instead of typing out a comment I’ll easily reject, ask yourself why would this person (and most foreigners- at least the ones that will talk) have from time immemorial, offered the same grievances I’m hearing from this person? What do they see that I don’t see or choose to ignore, subconsciously or otherwise about myself and my country? Most of my classmates from JSS left Ghana and never came back. Well, some come back for that vacation here and there, but most take their potentials overseas- and these are some very smart people; they finely polish their advanced intellects, and choose to apply them there. Look up and down my facebook friends list if you can, or try yours for that matter (of those from Ghana)… what’s their motivation to come back when they have to endure cock-ups like you. You choose to wallow in your filth atop the riches you could never seem to learn how to put to your benefit. You sit and watch white people come from the 1400s till now to tap these very same resources you’ve still not learned to use to enhance your wretched livelihoods. They come to work jobs you should be able to do, but can’t. They come to build and exploit industries for their gain, and return with riches that’ll never benefit you- yet you gladly usher them in like VIPs. Sometimes, they come and settle and find ways to start small enterprises you should’ve been able to start on your own, but never did and never will do, but you’d be the first to complain that they’re here taking your jobs. You then enter into what can only be described as indentured servitude in their businesses and put up with all manner of abuse…just so you can say you, too, got something from broni? You clamor for their 2nd hand clothing, expired and unwanted products, and government subsidized goods that constrict your own local industries. You now go so far as to pathetically and shamefully mimic their accents- or at least, what you imagine they actually sound like, just so you can pretend you’re like them (I can never understand that behavior)? You pawn off their music as yours by slapping “hiplife” label on it like it’s a whole new musical genre, when in actuality it’s only Twi rap. You bleach your skins, don a mishmash of what you imagine is how these westerners wear and pretend you’re living some high society experience these people have in their countries. Yet, after all this, you secretly resent their presence here inasmuch as you outwardly grovel and slobber over them when those rare opportunities present themselves. You show your disdain when I pack off my “pure water” sachet into my bag or pocket instead of throwing it anywhere because you think I think I’m better? You’re right, I am better than you! You even resent foreigners offering advice (or I guess sometimes, dictating is the right term) on how to improve your own homeland when at the same time, you can’t help but repeatedly return to them with hands in knees for loans packages to prop up an economy they own and control. You don’t think they control you? Name me one thing you think you own outright that they need; or one thing you think you own or control that they don’t already have, and also ask yourself whether you can subsist without their presence here. But heaven forbid, a brown-skinned person like yourself actually speaks truths you don’t want to hear, especially one “uppity” guy who has lived and been educated abroad.

Get used to it, homes. I’ll write what I see. If you don’t like it, tough luck! I don’t need your clicks. I don’t want to be your friend. I have more than enough friends. And at my age, I certainly don’t give two shits about placating to your fragile feelings…while you continue to contribute to fucking up my home. Save your objections (which I obviously will never post) for face-to-face, or don’t bother writing- your pick. By December 31, I’ll have not one, but…count it… TWO businesses with at least 5 long-term employees earning no less than 250ghc/month! What have you done for Ghana in the time I was gone and in the time I’ve been back? Oh, that’s right, nothing…except troll expat blogs and bitch about what people write. I am wicked smart. So smart, I came to Ghana and saw the same gold mine those white folks have been seeing, and I’ll tap it for me and family, and then show my fellow “too-know” friends how I did it. No, I won’t enjoin with you to help improve Ghana like you’ve suggested because we’ve both heard that empty rhyme too many times. We won’t see eye-to-eye on virtually everything; you already resent me; and I’ll quickly tire of seeing someone who knows how to dress ‘smartly” but is actually has no better use than a bubblehead doll. And should I end up hiring no-experience/masters-holding empty shells like you, I’ll look to how the Indians, Chinese, and Lebanese treat you at their business and double it, because you’ve shown us just how much you like being beaten down. You think I hurt your lil’ feelings?…grow the fuck up! …you fucking duchebags!

See you next entry! 😉

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§ 11 Responses to On Some Of What I Write

  • Yaa says:

    Mike you pay your staff 250ghs? Thats not particularly generous for Accra.
    If you were asking why some of us bother to come back to read your entries only to disagree with and even make comments. Its just the addiction to wanting a ‘bad boy’ syndrome. He might treat you like dirt, talk to you like you are crap and show he doesn’t want you by every means but he might be the one fix you want all the time. As long as you keep an open door policy we’ll keep coming and going as we like, freeloading and in the process also occasionally offer to give you those warm hugs you keep refusing to acknowledge.

    • Mike says:

      250ghc for a baker is far more than the 0ghc she isn’t earning.

    • Mike says:

      @Yaa I wanted to write more, but airtel hasn’t been making my day. You were right, 250ghc is not very much in a place like this, but for general labor, it’s fairly generous for those who normally make 150ghc/month. I’d pay more, but we aren’t fiscally in a place where I can dole out more without affecting the bottom line plus I want pay to reflect real work ethic, and that’s something that can only be earned and learned over time.
      As for readership and commentary, I’m actually very open to criticism, as long as it’s with merit, not based on imagined assumptions about me, and actually serves a valued purpose to what I write. I’ll never do open. I’ll leave that to the ghanaweb forums. Constructive criticisms- yes; bitching because I aired our dirty laundry- no. I will concede I have been a bit harsh and over generalized about some women here and can see how some might not take too kindly to my words, but I also hardly think a few entries out of close to 70 should necessitate some of the comments I’ve gotten. This blog isn’t about Ghanaian women, nor has the totallity of my writing reflected that idea. And I’m sure if my naysayers bothered to scan through back entries, they might draw different conclusions about me, but that’s not their interest or motivation, which is a reason why I don’t just accept everything they write.
      Btw, just saw your website!  If you made facial cleansers, you’d make a killing helping to solve Ghana’s acne problem.

      • Yaa says:

        Ouch, acne is my sore subject I suffer from it myself(hormonal). Im working on something but I cant help most ghanaian women with their (chemical)acne problems as its self brought on from using some of the crappy products for bleaching. My comment about what you pay your staff was one third a joke. I know most people earn pittance for more back breaking work in Accra and as for the kind words of critics what could I say that you haven’t said yourself.

  • Richard says:

    Good read.

    Why do I read blogs like yours? Because I want to hear your story. Your real story. Sometimes what you say corresponds to my own experience and sometimes it does not. In either case, I usually learn something I can use and/or enjoy the free entertainment.

    For those who do not like the stories, I offer this advice. Just tell your own story.

    Remember also that you cannot learn much from people who always agree with you on every issue! Take care. Peace.

  • Richard says:

    Good read.

    Why do I read blogs like yours? Because I want to hear your story. Your real story. Sometimes what you say corresponds to my own experience and sometimes it does not. In either case, I usually learn something I can use and/or enjoy the free entertainment.

    For those who do not like the stories, I offer this advice. Just tell your own story.

    Remember also that you cannot learn much from people who always agree with you on every issue!

    Take care. Peace.

  • Jean says:

    If you return to North America, how do you think you will be changed? My parents immigrated to Canada and haven’t visited since. Ummm, that was over 54 yrs. ago. 🙂 They left just when Mao took over the country.

    Of course, the country has undergone multiple cataclysmic revolutions. I think they didn’t want to visit (which surprises others) because they would be disappointed.

    • Mike says:

      Hi Jean.
      It’s hard to say how I will be changed. The simplest answer is that I’ll be more appreciative of the simplest everyday things I hardly ever noticed how necessary and important they were to my livelihood. I’ve had 42 power outtages in 2 months; I don’t having running water; and I haven’t seen 1mb internet speed since I came.
      That said, I also know I’ll have an even stronger drive to return and continue the life I’ve started here- more than I had when I first left NYC.

      • Jean says:

        No doubt you will be appreciative of simpler stuff back at home in NYC. (Their Sandy problems are real but not insurmountable long term.) With the exception of Macau and Hong Kong, China was never colonized. So it should not be a surprise to anyone, that they’ve become economically stronger. But with a high price of raping/polluting their own natural environment even more, occupational deaths/hazards to their own locals/workers, patent piracy, and so on.

        And don’t get me started on corruption, bribery (ganxi) which is common and a lousy legal system at this time that doesn’t protect its own citizens well.

        No I’ve never been to China yet and part of me cringes, because just visiting people I’ve known get coughs, colds because of polluted air in Beijing, Shanghai, etc. I know the headlong rush to modernization and their near worship of things Western-modern-hip is disappointing, because I see it reflected in recent immigrants ….and in my own relatives who have come here to Canada. (They MUST have a car as soon as they get to Canada. So you see the same corollary of building highways in China, some traffic jams never before existed 30 yrs. ago in China…).

        However there are some people who see the light… Hope you’ll find some locals in Accura, who are plugging along outside of the madness.

  • Jeena Effoe says:

    All I can say is wow.. you really sounded off on that one… Its a true assesment of of how humans everywhere get down. Often they neglect their own resources, but get mad when someone else takes advantage of it.. smh.. I understand your vent and your intent…… carry on.

  • Nana Yaw says:

    Mike, I was in Accra, at roughly the same time you wrote this (I suspect from one of your earlier posts that I lived not far from where you lived). I had also not visited Ghana for a couple of decades, and my experience, emotions and general impression of Ghana and its people, matches yours exactly.
    BTW, I also setup a business and have decided to do business in Ghana in the same manner as the other foreigners conduct business – i.e. no quarter given, as the average Ghanaian is incompetent, ignorant, lacks critical thinking skills (hence the over religiosity) and is duplicitous in nature.
    I say all this (as a fellow Ghanian) with a heavy heart.

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